Saturday, June 30, 2007

They had to come down. My daughter had two beautiful ficus trees in her backyard that just couldn’t stand up to the freeze that hit the valley last winter. They took on a brown, sickly, “we are not going to make it” look and died as dead as door nails.

I took my trusty little saw over to her house and with a Dr. Kevorkian kind of skill—my son and I put them out of their misery. We hauled away two pick up truck loads of tree “stuff.”

It’s sad to see a beautiful life come to an end—even tree life.

The saddest part of the whole experience was disturbing a bird and her nest. The tree came down. The nest came down with it. The bird flew away, leaving her eggs behind in the nest. We tenderly placed the nest in another tree hoping she will find the nest before it is too late for the “birds to be.” At what stage can we safely terminate the birth of a “bird to be”? Are there birds in those eggs or just “stuff” waiting to be birds?

I hope that mother bird gets busy and finds those eggs. This is deep theology and I don’t know the answers. Regardless I don’t want to be a bird abortionist.

Maybe you better steer clear of me today. I have dismembered two trees and maybe killed some baby birds and broken the heart of a mother bird.


Friday, June 29, 2007

SIR THOMAS MORE, 1478-1535
He was Lord Chancellor of England. He refused to accept King Henry VIII’s claim to be supreme head of the Church of England, a decision which ended his career and led to his execution as a traitor. His last words, just before he was beheaded were, “The King’s good servant but God’s first.”

MAHATMA GANDI, 1869-1948
A political and spiritual leader of India. He was committed to non-violence. Words alone cannot describe him. The movie, simply titled Gandi, is a moving tribute to a life lived with determination and purpose.

MOTHER TERESA, 1910-1997
For over forty years she ministered to the needs of the poor, sick, orphaned and dying in Calcutta. She cared for the “poorest of the poor” in conditions that words cannot describe. You must see it to believe it. I have been to India and I still have trouble believing it is real.

Leah has been living in a remote village in India for over sixty years. She directs the work at Kulpahar Kids Home. Speaking to a group of students at a Christian school she was asked, “How does one stay in such a difficult place for so long?” She answered, “You must believe that this is what God wants you to do.”

What is God’s purpose for my life? Will I have the character and courage to live up to it or will I just try to get by, “flying by the seat of my pants”?


Thursday, June 28, 2007

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.
The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, "Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."
The gentleman replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've changed my will three times!"


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stephen M.R. Covey tells a wonderful story about Mahatma Gandhi:

At one point in his life, he was invited to speak before the House of Commons in England. Using no notes, he spoke for two hours and brought an essentially hostile audience to a rousing standing ovation. Following his speech, some reporters approached his secretary, Mahadev Desai, incredulous that Gandhi could mesmerize his audience for such a long time with no notes. Desai responded:

What Gandhi thinks, what he feels, what he says, and what he does are all the same. He does not need notes…You and I, we think one thing, feel another, say a third, and do a fourth, so we need notes and files to keep track.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It will be 111 today. The last eighteen years I have said, “The heat doesn’t really bother me that much until it gets over 110. Well, ok, it will be 1 degree over 110 today. That does it. I’m outta here. The cool is calling. I don’t like to announce just when I will be out of town, but the plans have already been made.

I’m heading toward the COOL! When I travel in Arizona in the summer, I don’t go to Tucson. I go to Flagstaff. I head for the COOL. When I go to California in the summer I don’t head for Palm Springs. I go to San Diego. I head for the COOL.

The resort is on Coronado Bay just across the street from the beach with a walkway under the highway and right onto the beach. I’m heading for the COOL. It will be fish and chips while overlooking the ocean, laying on the beach with the cool breeze blowing across my body, strolling through the “cool” shops along the bay, puttering around on Point Loma, hang it all—I may even go to the zoo.

The cool is calling and I am going!


Monday, June 25, 2007

The joy is in the anticipation. I love looking at maps, plotting out the best route, getting on the computer or phone with the motels/hotels, or on the phone with relatives checking on dates, etc. Oh, I enjoy the trip—don’t misunderstand, but ah, the planning—that’s when most of the joy comes. Again, it’s the anticipation of what’s to come!

Yes, we are planning some trips and we are living in eager anticipation. There are visions of sugar plum dancing in our heads.

How about you? Got any trips planned? If so, don’t sleep walk through the planning. That’s where the joy is.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

In the Ditmore tradition we make much of “special” days—birthdays, holidays, vacations and special trips. We have always preserved them on film. We have pictures of almost every Christmas we have ever celebrated. We have pictures of birthday celebrations, vacations, family reunions, trips to distant places, forty years of trips to the campus of Pepperdine University and much, much more.

Charlotte is now converting many of our pictures and slides to musical DVD’s. This is an absolutely wonderful way to preserve memories. I have watched these with tears in my eyes from laughter and also sadness. A good example is the DVD with the title “Holy Land Trip 1978”. Along with my wife, I took twelve ladies with me and we joined up with about three hundred others (men and women) on a trip to the “Holy Land.” The men left behind called this group of ladies, “Clif’s harem.” It was the trip of a lifetime. However, tears come to my eyes when looking at the pictures on our large screen television where the people are “bigger than life” and realizing they have all passed away accept Charlotte and two other ladies.

“Memories, how they linger, how they ever flood the soul.”


Saturday, June 23, 2007

The following statement has to be one of the dumbest I have heard in a long time:

“I am both a Muslim and a Christian just like I am both an American of African descent and a woman. I’m 100 per cent both. …At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That’s all I need.” Ann Holmes Redding, an Episcopal priest.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Everybody knows how to watch a movie, right? No! Many movie viewers want to ask l01 questions, eat a jumbo barrel of pop corn and insert their opinion about every scene.

When I watch a movie—I WATCH IT! I live and breathe every scene. I laugh, cry, get angry and sometime get upset. I have left the theater with tears of sadness and tears of joy.

You probably wouldn’t enjoy watching a movie with me if you want companionship or conversation. However, you might enjoy watching a movie with me if you just wanted a friend nearby who was totally absorbed in what was going on.

Don’t ever try watching a movie with a bunch of kids, a bunch of seniors or a couple at a matinee who just wanted to get inside where it’s cool and dark.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

I’m a walking billboard for In-N-Out Burger. The delivery man brought me a surprise Father’s Day gift yesterday. I had received what should have been enough gifts on Sunday but my daughter always likes to give surprises. Mine came today in the form of a shirt. It really is a billboard advertisement for In-N-Out Burger. The front of the shirt has a small logo saying, In-N-Out Burger, Southern California. The back has a large colored picture of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant and the words Southern California.

My attachment to In-N-Out started years ago when we lived in Southern California. The business started in Baldwin Park where they have their headquarters and even an In-N-Out Burger College. For years we lived just west of Baldwin Park and then for a few more years we lived east of there.

I don’t mind advertising for them. In fact, I’m so fond of the place, I’m happy to do it. The best burger in Arizona? No, not by a long shot. But they are good—very good. One of the best things about them is that the organization is run by Christians. I like that! Better to eat these burgers and die a slow death than an Islamic burger and die immediately.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich are my guys.

Rudy recently rattled off a list of twelve commitments to the American people. These are good things and we should pay close attention to what he’s saying.

Newt only has half as many (Six) on his list—but they are powerful! Newt is brilliant and unpredictable.

America needs these men to lead us out of the mess we are in. I know, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich are not names that sound as “down home” as Dick Jones and Tom Smith but these guys would be welcome in my home any time.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

“Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve him in every way I can.” President Ronald Reagan penned those words after being released from the hospital when he was shot by John Hinckley Jr. Ronald Reagan is one of my heroes!

I am reading with great interest, The Reagan Diaries. The book, edited by Douglas Brinkley, was a Father’s Day gift. To be interested in this kind of reading you have to have liked Ronald Reagan and be interested in what he was doing day by day while he was President.

I had prayed that George W. Bush would be another President like Reagan. I expected too much. He is not Reagan and therefore cannot be expected to act like him. President Bush is a good man but he does not have the courage that Reagan had. President Reagan spoke softly but carried a big stick. President Bush carries a big stick but speaks softly.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Saturday night I watched it for the umpteenth time—the movie, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Why do I like it so much? I have been trying to figure it out. I think it’s because of the great actors: Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier.

I knew I had seen the movie many times and I knew that it was an oldie. But I did not realize that it was forty years old. It was Hollywood’s first movie about interracial marriage. Young people will not feel the impact and the tension of the movie because they were born into and grew up in a different period. They have no background to be emotionally concerned about interracial marriage.

It is a good movie with fantastic acting. I hope to see it again!


Sunday, June 17, 2007


Today is Fathers Day. I’m glad I am a father. My son and daughter are the joy of my life. They have never caused me a single day of regret. I feel honored to be the father of two wonderful people.

Father is a good word. The words, Heavenly Father, are even better! We are leaving in a few minutes to go to the assembly of about 2,000 people, all of whom will be honoring their Heavenly Father. It’s His day. It’s the Lord’s Day.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Pacific coast is the ultimate!

I live in the desert and I love it. But I also love California—especially the coast. It’s almost dangerous to make that kind of statement in these parts. Mention California and people get a strange glint in their eyes. To them, California represents all that is kooky, crazy and corrupted. And I admit, there is some-- if not a lot, of that there.

Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is fascinating to me. I love the coast from San Diego to Eureka. I love San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach. Moving on up state, I love Santa Barbara and Solvang, although Solvang is not right on the coast. I have had great fun in Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay. And then of course, Carmel, where we spent our honeymoon is fantastic. Monterey and Santa Cruz are splendid. San Francisco has to be on everybody’s list of places to visit. And yet it may be one of the kookiest!

Why did I get up this morning thinking about the Pacific coast? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it’s so darn hot here now—I don’t know.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Ann Couter writes funny but sad stuff. Here is a sample:
President Bush was so buoyed by the warm reception he was given in Albania that he immediately gave all 3 million Albanians American citizenship, provided they learn Spanish. The offer was withdrawn when Bush found out most Albanians haven't broken any U.S. laws.

Bush's pal, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, gave immunity to a Mexican drug dealer hauling a million dollars worth of drugs across the border so that the drug dealer could testify against two Border Patrol agents who shot him in the buttock.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

According to the book Celebrities in Hell, a number of big stars may be aligned with the universe, but not with the force that some believe created it.The book quotes the following:
George Clooney: "I don't believe in heaven or hell. I don't know if I believe in God."
Angelina Jolie: "There doesn't need to be a God for me."
Carrie Fisher: "I love the idea of God, but it's not stylistically in keeping with the way I function." (From Bill O'Reilly's web page)


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

President Bush met with Republicans yesterday to try and convince them to sign into law a ridiculous 800 page immigration bill. Bill O’Reilly has come up with a one page, four point solution. Three cheers for Bill. Here is his plan:
1) secure the southern border with 700, not 300 miles of barrier, double the border patrol and back them up with 10,000 National Guards people. That would effectively shut down human and drug smuggling from Mexico.
2) require all illegal aliens in the country right now to register at the post office with Homeland Security. After registering, they would be given a tamper proof ID card, designating their status and their right to work temporarily in the USA. If the illegal aliens do not register, it's a criminal felony. Right now sneaking across the border is a civil action. Remember that. Subjecting the person to immediate deportation or jail time. The criminal penalty goes way up.
3) Any business that hires an illegal worker who doesn't have a tamper proof ID card faces draconian fines and possible prison time for the executives.
4) Each illegal alien would have his case reviewed by federal authorities. And they would decide who would receive a Z-visa to stay and who would not. That takes the blanket amnesty, something many American hate, off the table. It also allows the feds to make rational decisions about who's helping America and who isn't.
Under that banner, no illegal alien who commits a crime while here would be allowed to stay. Also under that program, no welfare of any kind would be paid to folks here illegally. They'd have to work for their living.
Now that is a fair immigration plan that I believe would be acceptable to most Americans. It would also allow the feds to quickly build a database, so Homeland Security would know the extent of the alien intrusion, which we don't know now.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Phillip Yancy was injured in an automobile accident. Looking back to immediately after the accident he said that all of life boiled down to four questions: Whom do I love? Whom will I miss? What have I done with my life? And am I ready for what’s next?

Man, that’s about it! Maybe our questions would be a little different, but I doubt it.

What are your answers?


Monday, June 11, 2007

So far, it’s a rare day in the valley of the sun—no sun! Well, of course, there is a sun—but it’s not shining through the clouds. At least not right now. It will be a rare day indeed if it doesn’t shine at all.

I lived in California for 32 years and when it looked like this, it rained. One day right after moving to this area, 18 years ago, I told our friend Bessie what happened in California when it looked like this. Very kindly but emphatically she said, “This is not California.” Well, of course, she was right in more ways that one. There is a slight chance of rain today—very slight. Some places get more rain in a few hours than we get all year.

I worked outside all morning. I watered the lawn. I don’t expect rain. This is not California.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

What a difference being in a worship service can make. I woke up this morning thinking about fish and chips. I wrote about fish and chips in my blog. I went off to church thinking about fish and chips. I'm back home now, thinking about amazing grace. My whole outlook on the day has changed. What a difference being with Him and with others of like mind can make.


I like fish cooked many ways but I like it fried best. I know, I know, fried food is not healthy. I have heard this all my life. But like so many other things I have heard, I tend to ignore it.

I have eaten fish and chips from Los Angeles to London. A few times it has been bad but most of the time it has been good—very good. I loved eating fish and chips at Ruby’s Diner out on the pier at Huntington Beach. For a while there were two Ruby’s in our area. One was at the Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale and the other one was close by at Paradise Valley Mall. They have both closed, leaving me very sad. The closest one now is at the Chandler Mall and that is not close.

So, I’m just going to cook my own fish and chips. It will be great. I can hardly wait. Fish, fries, onion rings, cole slaw, tartar sauce, sourdough bread.

(Today is the Lord's Day and I would like to tell you that I got up this morning thinking about all things spiritual, but no--I got up thinking about fish and chips.)


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Picasso tells us we are all born children, “The trick is remaining one.” How do we remain one? Children are dazzled by a butterfly, entranced by a floating leaf—they are having the time of their lives.

Children live in the now! They live in the moment.

For years I have been trying to live in the moment. I try too hard. It doesn’t work that way. I have to learn to “let go and let God.” Enthusiasm comes from the Greek word meaning, “filled with God.” A God filled life is one that is enjoyed moment by moment.

Saturday is house cleaning day. Ah yes, mop bucket, here I come!


Friday, June 08, 2007

"If you plan to swallow a frog, it is best not to look at it too long. If you have a number of frogs to swallow, swallow the big one first."


Thursday, June 07, 2007

The “Ascending Voice” conference was recently held on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. This is a conference for those who are from the acapella tradition of music. One quote came out of that conference that I want to share with you. Ken Nafziger from Eastern Mennonite University said, “The people I speak with are my fellow human beings. The people I sing with are my family.”

Think about it. You sing in the shower, the car, and other places when you are alone. But generally we do not sing when other people are around—except at church. Ah, that’s it. We sing at church. Or at least that’s my experience. Today, people in general, just do not sing. “The people I sing with are my family.” That’s powerful.

Find a church. Start singing!


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Where Is God When It Hurts?" is the title of a sermon by Phillip Yancy that he gave at Virginia Tech two weeks after the horrible shooting on the campus. You can read it at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/june/14.55.html. It is well worth your time.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We all seem to be in a mad dash toward whatever is next.

I believe God is what you and I are actually looking for. We are not just looking for the truth about God, but God himself. We are seeking for his presence and his power. We are on a quest for the ultimate.

We will find God in this way when we find him through our friends. This community of friends I call the church. I believe this always begins with, not the larger body, but one individual. And from this friendship with one, comes appreciation for the entire body—the church.

Become a friend. You will find a community of friends. You will find God.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Old Sam Johnson goes to his doctor complaining of aches and pains all over his body. After a thorough examination, the doctor gives him a clean bill of health. ”Sam, you're in excellent shape for an 85 year old man. But I'm not a magician -- I can't make you any younger,” says the doctor. ”Who asked you to make me younger?” says Sam. “You just make sure I get older!”


Sunday, June 03, 2007

All my life I have said about certain situations, “It just shouldn’t be this way.”

Well, guess what. IT is what it is!

I can go on insisting that things ought to be different but they will continue to be what they are.

The greater my surrender to the truth of the moment, the greater will be my peace of mind.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

President George Bush and congress should not be trying to push one big bill on immigration. Instead they should have written a series of smaller ones. The first one should have been to close the borders. When that is done, seriously and believably done, then we can relax in the knowledge that the situation is not day by day getting worse.

Those of us who do not buy into this “marvelous” new plan of the President and congress are being insulted as idiots, radicals and racists. None of those words describe me. I’m a realist and just want a common sense approach to a big problem.

Close the border to those who are coming in illegally and then take the next steps to clear up this mess.

Friday, June 01, 2007